The Home Depot has launched a new program aimed at its professional customers with the intent of making their visits as convenient and easy as possible. The new program includes new hours to better fit professionals' schedules, more point-of-sales staffing, special parking for pros, more loading assistance, and an easier system for product returns. Professional customers make up only 4% of the Atlanta-based company's shoppers, but account for about one-third of its sales.

Company officials say they instituted the program after concluding professionals visit Home Depot not out of comfort, but rather because the stores are convenient. "We need to make that purchase of convenience the best possible experience," executive vice president of U.S. stores Marvin Ellison said at the company's annual investor and analyst conference in December. "We are going to accept the reality that we are a store of convenience."

Ellison said the world's largest home improvement retail company has not adjusted properly to meet the needs of its professional customers and that this program does so. The Home Depot plans to complete the program and have the changes made by Jan. 31.